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Discussion Starter #1
I've been in the market for a short list of vehicles for a while, with the Ridgeline prominent on the list, and have done quite a bit of reading on this forum to get a handle on what to look for. I just recently ran across an 06 RTL with around 107K miles for $11.5K. It's a little over an hour away from me, but according to carfax it's a single owner, and it appears to be in pretty good condition. I haven't seen the maintenance records yet, but they're supposed to exist (practically no maintenance shows up on carfax, so they may have done their own work).

I'm curious to hear what anybody thinks about the price, and what in particular I ought to be looking for, both regarding the 06 and assuming that the owner has been doing the maintenance? Timing belt and water pump is top of the list, and I've done some reading up on the radiator issue. Anything else?
 

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Radiator is an issue depending on where you live. That's a decent price for a clean ridge. But yea see if the t-belt and pump have been done. That would be a plus but personally not a deal breaker for me.

I think only dealer services are reported to carfax, not small mom and pop places.
 

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Not a bad price if the TB/WP was done but I would rather they knock 1k off and do it at 120k. Check the tire tread. Depending on what he replaced the originals with you may be about due. If he put Michelins on it he probably took care of it. Some off brand and he may not have. You could check the dash lights and put it in park to see if all the locks unlock. If it's an early 06 you'll need a fuse box. Other than that it seems you have it covered. I would change all the fluids to get a fresh start so maintenance records would be nice but not a deal breaker. These things are pretty reliable.
 

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2006 Ridgeline RTS in Steel Blue
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Only Dealer Services are reported to carfax and insurance agencies, for annual mileage info. (they sell our info and we get nothing, but that's another thread another day)

Radiator is not dependent on location IMO...

If it hasn't done the Timing Belt, I'd do the radiator at the same time or if your doing it yourself (just before) and let them put new coolant in

Here are all the related Radiator and Transmission threads if you haven't found them all. Good Luck


Pictures of Corroded/Rusted Radiator Fittings

Radiator Fail on 2006

Best Radiator Replacement

UOA on ATF

Anatomy of OEM Denso Radiator

Poll(Never Posted) on Radiator/Trans Cooler Solution
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies; this forum really is a great source of info when looking to buy.

Good points on the carfax maintenance. In looking at several other reports, I do see a lot of non-dealer maintenance reported, at least in this area--mainly national chains, like Meineke and AAA shops, but some local chains, too. But most independent shops probably don't report.

(I understand what you're saying Carsmak--carfax seems a lot like scientific journals, who publish papers other people write for free, then sell very expensive subscriptions back to the same people/institutions writing the papers.)

I definitely don't think its a problem if the timing belt hasn't been done; I just figure it's worth about $1K less to me, especially being 10 years old. Good point on saving some labor by doing the radiator at the same time.

One more question, more of an opinion thing. Since this is out of town, I can't get my usual mechanic to look at it for me. I figure my choices for getting it looked over are either the Honda dealer in that town, one of the better chain shops around (there's a Precision Tune, for instance), or just use google reviews to pick a local shop (there are a couple of shops with pretty good reviews). Anyone have any experience/opinions with dealer inspections versus local shops?

Thanks again!
 

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Beyond the radiator and timing belt, fluid maintenance is very key. But, you have to use the CORRECT fluids. Make sure the coolant is blue (Honda Type 2), ensure that the transmission fluid, VTM-4 fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid are all Honda genuine. Engine oil and front transfer case gear lube can be whatever brand, but the others are specifically formulated to work with the specific units in the RL. As was mentioned, I would change ALL of the fluids as soon as you buy it just to set a maintenance baseline.
 

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If I was looking for a mechanic in a town I didn't live in, I'd try AAA website or Yelp for recommendations.
 

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Paying someone to look at it is often a waste of money. There's companies on the web that have people all over that will inspect cars. Start it up and make sure it doesn't smoke, run it on a nice long drive and if no lights come on and it drives fine you're good.
 

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Paying someone to look at it is often a waste of money. There's companies on the web that have people all over that will inspect cars. Start it up and make sure it doesn't smoke, run it on a nice long drive and if no lights come on and it drives fine you're good.
I agree with this. I'd add doing one's own visual check of certain parts.

Take a look at the tires. Makes sure they have good tread left. Make sure they aren't wearing unevenly or have any cupping as this could be a sign of an alignment issue or worn out suspension parts.

Check the brake rotors. If they look wavy or there is a pronounced lip on the edge, they're probably on their way out. Likewise, peer in at the brake pads. You'll be able to see at least the outside pad to get an idea of how much meat is left on them. If the vehicle brakes smoothly, evenly and doesn't pull to one side or the other during harder braking, you're likely ok in that area.

Pull the engine oil and tranny fluid dipstick and check the level. Engine oil is pretty stout these days and can take a lot of punishment, so don't let "dirty oil" sway you. Golden-colored oil turns very dark within a few hundred miles of driving. As far as the tranny fluid, it should be red and shouldn't smell burned. If it's brown and smells bad, there's a good chance the tranny maintenance was neglected.

Go to a local parts store and buy a coolant acidity level test kit. It's only a few bucks and is basically a litmus test for the acidity of the coolant. If it's past the acceptable color level, the truck needs the coolant changed.

Check every single light bulb as well as the engine air filter and cabin air filter. If you don't know how to get to the cabin air filter, look it up on here. It take 90 seconds. If these are clean, chances are the original owner took good care of the truck. Many don't even know a cabin air filter exists and they get taken when they complain their HVAC system isn't doing its job.

Bottom line is that if you take a half hour and do these things yourself, you'll have a better understanding of the vehicle you're trying to buy. It's free too!
 
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